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Best Climbing Gear of 2022

The best climbing gear from our veteran testers, hand selected just for you
Best Climbing Gear of 2022
When there is a lot of air between you and the ground, and the rock quality is questionable, it's good to have a crash pad with firm, reliable foam.
By Chris McNamara ⋅ Founder and Editor-in-Chief
Wednesday June 22, 2022
Our Editors independently research, test, and rate the best products. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Learn more
Welcome. You have stumbled onto the Holy Grail of climbing gear lists! Below you are going to find our top picks: the gear our climber-testers would recommend to their best friends. We buy every item at the store, just like you, then we test it…for months. Below we recommend the top two items in each category. We start off with climbing shoes, arguably the most important item in your pack. Next up are harnesses (men and women), then helmets, followed by ropes and packs, and so on. But there's more. The assortment is wide but the selection is narrow. Only the best here.


climbing gear - according to our testers, who compared all the best climbing shoes...
According to our testers, who compared all the best climbing shoes, the TC Pro's biggest weakness is the performance on overhanging terrain. The burlier heel cup, in particular, offers limited sensitivity when heel hooking.
Credit: Jack Cramer

Shoes


Aside from technique and will power, climbing shoes are the most important piece of gear for a climber. Our testers have ground down the rubber on hundreds of shoes over the years, on everything from cracks to slabs to the steepness. We've got options for men and women, from all the top brands. If you are looking for specific shoes, say, the best for bouldering or crack climbing, see our full comparison review. We've even got top picks for your kiddos' feet. Yes, we tested men's and women's approach shoes as well.

Climbing Shoes - Men's

La Sportiva Katana Lace


There are many reasons why the La Sportiva Katana Lace is a stalwart at crags across America. The slightly downturned toe and subtle asymmetry ensures you can hook into pockets or exploit the tiniest edges. Despite the downturn, this shoe keeps your foot…

La Sportiva Tarantulace


For beginners and recreational climbers, the performance benefits of a high-end shoe likely aren't worth the cost. That's where the La Sportiva Tarantulace comes in. You can get your hands on a pair for less than half the price of a premium shoe. It is…


Climbing Shoes - Women's

La Sportiva Miura VS - Women's


The La Sportiva Miura VS is a stiff, aggressively shaped edging powerhouse. These shoes allowed us to stand on incredibly small holds, while their aggressive shape, with a slight downturn, makes the Miura VS a master of precision. These shoes were our…

Five Ten Kirigami - Women's


This shoe is extremely friendly and so comfortable that we almost forgot we were wearing it. Though it performed average in all metrics, the Five Ten Kirigami impressed us most by remaining comfortable no matter the situation. The Stealth C4 rubber is…


Climbing Shoes - Kids

Evolv Venga


The Evolv Venga is a great all-around moderate kid's climbing shoe. Children's climbing shoes are not known for exceptional performance, instead favoring features like comfort and adjustability. This shoe somehow does a good job across the board. A hook…

Butora Brava


When Butora entered the climbing shoe market, many dismissed them, thinking there was no need for another player in the shoe game. But when people saw how well they performed for the price, that doubt faded fast. The Butora Brava is no exception. At the…


Approach Shoes - Men's

La Sportiva TX2


The La Sportiva TX2 is the best approach shoe we've ever put on! Stop reading and go buy these right now! Or keep reading to find out if these lightweight, comfortable shoes that climb and hike equally well are right for you. Seriously though, it's rare…

La Sportiva Boulder X


The La Sportiva Boulder X wins our Best Buy Award, delivering the most bang for your buck. Durable and supportive for rough scrambling, it still climbs well on technical rock. The Vibram Idro-Grip V-Smear sole provides a great compromise between climbing…


Approach Shoes - Women's

La Sportiva TX2 - Women's


We're not sure where to begin describing the La Sportiva TX2. Should we start with its impressively lightweight design? Or perhaps its excellent climbing ability and top-notch comfort? Whichever way you put it, there's no denying that this shoe is…

La Sportiva Boulder X - Women's


The La Sportiva Boulder X is a longtime favorite of climbers, and we get it. Despite a whole host of new shoes on the market, the Boulder X remains unbeatably cozy and supportive. For a long time, this shoe just couldn't be beaten for long approaches, but…


climbing gear - the petzl sirocco is made with a combination of eps foam on the top...
The Petzl Sirocco is made with a combination of EPS foam on the top for the best absorption coming from a rock or ice impact, which is covered by the orange plastic top piece. On the sides it is comprised of EPP foam, which has the ability to absorb multiple impacts without deforming. Our testers compared all the top climbing helmets, and the Sirocco was one of the best.

Helmets and Harnesses


Our team has 10 years of experience in testing helmets. If it's on the market, we've most surely gotten our mitts on it. We've wore these brain buckets in all manners of conditions, from multi-pitch trad to single-pitch sport. Our testers analyzed each and every helmet for comfort, adjustability, weight, durability, ventilation and the ability to accommodate a headlamp. We've tested harnesses as well, for men and women, that essential item you should never, ever compromise on. And don't forget about kids harnesses.

Climbing Harness - Men's

Arc'teryx C-Quence


The Arc'teryx C-Quence was released in the middle of 2020, Arc'teryx's first new harness design in many years. After extensive testing, we don't hesitate to call it the best all around harness, due to its excellence across all of our testing metrics, and…

Petzl Sama


In the winter of 2018, Petzl updated their already popular Sama harness, improving the fit and comfort level while holding on to what made it one of our favorites. As one of the highest-scoring harnesses in our review, sporting a versatile feature-set and…


Climbing Harness - Kids

Mammut Ophir - Kid's


After countless pitches and hours and hours of wearing, we are proud to announce the Mammut Ophir - Kids as our Editor's Choice. This harness clearly stands out as having everything we would want in a harness for kids. The sizeable gear loops stand off…

Trango Junior


The Trango Junior - Kids is a great all around beginner harness for children 25-80 pounds. Its design is a bit dated, and it has very few features that make it stand out; however, the construction is exactly what you would expect a basic beginner full…


Climbing Helmets

Black Diamond Vision MIPS


The Black Diamond Vision MIPS is our favorite overall climbing helmet, thanks to its incredible comfort and its ability to fit well onto different head shapes. It also includes a MIPS Brain Protection System that allows the helmet to move up to 15mm when…

Black Diamond Half Dome


The Black Diamond Half Dome is far and away the best value you can get in a climbing helmet. While it isn't exceptionally light or nearly as comfortable as the very best helmets in this review, it also costs less than half the price of lightweight EPP…


climbing gear - never compromise on rope quality. our testers compared all the top...
Never compromise on rope quality. Our testers compared all the top climbing ropes on the market, in all types of scenarios, to ensure our recommendations are based on real-life conditions. They tested for handling, durability, weight and catch.
Credit: Jack Cramer

Ropes and Belay


It's no doubt the case a rope needs to feel natural in your hands, but it needs more than that. Ropes are expensive. You want them to last, not be unnecessarily heavy, and offer the best catch. A good dry treatment helps as well. A top-shelf rope does all of this. To compile the list below, which consists of our top two picks, our testers have put dozens of ropes through the ringer, taken notes and made recommendations. Next up are belay devices, an equally important item in any climber's pack.

Climbing Ropes

Mammut 9.5 Crag Classic


The Mammut 9.5 Crag Classic is our favorite climbing rope, and so naturally, the one that we recommend as our Editors' Choice Award Winner. With a diameter of 9.5mm, this rope is thin enough to save you some weight and offer excellent handling, yet it is…

Beal Booster III


The Beal Booster has been around for as long as we've been climbing. It was one of our tester's first ropes that she ever purchased, and she started climbing almost 25 years ago. The current version, the Booster III, is an update on years past, so if you…


Belay Device

Petzl GriGri


The Petzl GriGri is an active assisted braking device that has long been the gold-standard for this genre, seen at crags and gyms all over the world. In 2019, Petzl released the GriGri, which is an update to the old GriGri 2, which is no longer in…

Black Diamond ATC Guide


The Black Diamond ATC Guide is a tough belay device and provides the best value for multi-pitch climbing. It combines a standard tube-style design with the ability to belay seconding climbers directly off the anchor on multi-pitch climbs, conveniently…


Rope Bags

DMM Classic


The DMM Classic handily earns our Editors' Choice Award as the overall best rope bag. It features a large tarp, comfortable backpack-style straps, and plenty of space for the essential climbing gear. Between outdoor cragging and gym climbing, the Classic…

Metolius Dirt Bag II


The Metolius Dirt Bag II features a much-improved closure system as well as a much larger and therefore more useful tarp, over the original model. Not only did the Dirt Bag get better but it also dropped in price from previous iterations. While we don't…


climbing gear - the pack materials of the route rocket strike a good balance between...
The pack materials of the Route Rocket strike a good balance between weight and durability. Our testers compared all the top climbing packs on the market, keeping an eye out for comfort, versatility, ability to climb, pockets, and so on.
Credit: Ian McEleney

Climbing Packs


I've got some unfortunate news: a good climbing pack will not make you climb harder. But that doesn't mean you should just buy the first one you see. A solid pack will last longer, carry more efficiently and properly in hard spots, and, just maybe, if you are carrying it on route, it will save a bit of pump! Enjoy.

Climbing Packs

The North Face Route Rocket


The North Face Route Rocket is a great daypack for rock climbing, and that's why it sits at the top of our list. Its streamlined design won't get hung up on branches on the approach or while hauling. The deep offset zipper on the main compartment, while…

Black Diamond Rock Blitz 15


The Black Diamond Rock Blitz 15 is one of our favorite small packs for rock climbing at a great price. It has a simple, easy-to-use design, and the materials strike a nice balance between durability and weight. We wish this pack had an emergency whistle…


climbing gear - contrary to what is sometimes popular believed, hangboards are not...
Contrary to what is sometimes popular believed, hangboards are not primarily for pull-ups. They are for building finger strength, which requires a good progression of holds that are challenging for their user. In order to determine the best of the best, our testers bought, used, analyzed and compared all the top hangboards on the market.
Credit: Ian Nicholson

Training and Chalk


Climbers are notorious for their training plans and obsession to the latest and greatest. Yet, at least so far, one training tool has lasted the test of time: hangboards. And every year, hangboards get more clever…and so multiply the ways we get injured. It's not east as just buying any old board, however. You want a hangboard that will meet you where you are at, work your weaknesses. Thankfully, our testers have broken down the lot of boards on the market. We tested them side by side, bought all the updated models, and analyzed their performance over months. Even better, we tested slacklines too, just because.

Hangboards

Trango Rock Prodigy Training Center


There is possibly no other hangboard that provides more systematic fingerboard training or is as easy to track and see subtle improvement as the Trango Rock Prodigy. Offering a variety of grips that build easily upon the last, this well-designed board…

Metolius 3D Simulator


The Metolius 3D Simulator is mega popular, and it deserves its fame. The Simulator offers an above-average amount of edges and pockets, and a fantastic selection at that. While not necessarily aimed at high-end climbers (works great for 5.10 to 5.13- type…


Slacklines

Slackline Industries Aggro Line


The Slackline Industries Aggro Line is an advanced kit for those who want the best which is why we have given it our Editors Choice Award. With about 100' of webbing, this is one of the longest rigs that we tested and the trampoline-like dynamic webbing…

Zen Monkey Complete Kit


The Zen Monkey Complete Kit makes a good beginner line for learning. The overhead training line and the arm trainer allow you to have added security and the arm trainer teaches natural arm movement. The webbing is soft underfoot and with low (7%) stretch…


Climbing Chalk

Black Diamond White Gold


Black Diamond White Gold is a no-nonsense, inexpensive way to get all the chalk you need for your next bouldering road trip or endless training days in the gym. In our humble opinion, White Gold offers a solid combination of performance and value, earning…

Metolius Super Chalk


Metolius Super Chalk may be the best deal on the chalk market. It's 20 cents cheaper per ounce than then Black Diamond's loose chalk, plus it has a "safe drying agent" to make your hands extra dry. Our testers came to this chalk with a lot of bias…


climbing gear - racking up for some single-pitch trad climbs while out cragging...
Racking up for some single-pitch trad climbs while out cragging. With the very large gear loops, it is easy to fit an entire triple set (or more!) of cams on Arc'teryx C-Quence, and there is also plenty of room on the fifth gear loop, made of flexible black webbing, on the back, to hold the necessities for multi-pitching. Add in the ice clipper slots, and this is a very versatile harness, suitable for literally any style of climbing. In the market for new cams? See our comparison review of the best climbing cams on the market.

Carabiners and Protection


Climbing protection, "pro" as it's called, doesn't come cheap. Cams are some of the most expensive items a climber will buy, which is why we took great care to test all the top models for range, durability, walking, tight placements, and so on. Stoppers and nut tools we didn't forget about, same with carabiners. Below are the top two picks in said categories, the stuff our testers would recommend to their friends.

Climbing Cams

Black Diamond Camalot Ultralight


Black Diamond Camalot Ultralights have everything our testers love about the Camalot C4s at 75% of the weight. Say what you will about the long-term durability of Dyneema, or how the price of a rack of Ultralights will shock load your wallet. When our…

Black Diamond Camalot


The Black Diamond C4 makes up the backbone of many a climber's rack. On any given October weekend, there are heaps of these things in Indian Creek, holding hundreds of falls and keeping everyone off the ground and out of the hospital. Their durability is…


Quickdraws

Petzl Spirit Express


The Petzl Spirit Express has been one of the most popular draws on the market for as long as most of our testers have been climbing, and for a good reason! They are lightweight for a sport draw, have excellent clipping action, and are easy to handle and…

Black Diamond HotForge Hybrid


The Black Diamond HotForge Hybrid is one of the collection of new quickdraws released by BD in early 2020, and is a solid choice for our Best Bang for the Buck Award. It combines smooth and easy functionality at a moderate price, and has very little drop…


Nuts and Stoppers

DMM Alloy Offset


The DMM Alloy Offset nuts are the latest iteration of the original HB offset nut. When they were released, they were considered a niche piece, but now they're the gold standard of passive protection. The last few years have seen several manufacturers…


Nut Tools

Metolius Torque


Simple, strong, and effective, the Metolius Torque has everything we're looking for in a nut tool plus an awesome wrench feature for tightening bolts. Every company who puts out a nut tool cuts holes in them to reduce weight. Metolius makes their holes…


Carabiner

CAMP Photon Wire


The CAMP Photon Wire could be called the Holy Grail of wiregate carabiners for its effective combination of full size, low weight, and low price, and tops the charts in our comparative testing due to these factors. At a mere 30g, it is the same weight or…

Trango Phase Carabiner


The Trango Phase is a small and relatively light carabiner that won't break the bank. It comes in a straight and (slightly) bent gate and in eight different colors for racking your cams. It has a slim profile, which is great if you rack on your harness…


Climbing Slings

Mammut Contact Dyneema


The Mammut Contact Sling wins our Editors' Choice award for the best overall climbing sling because it far outperforms the competition, leading the way when it comes to weight (a mere 19g), bulk, handle, and the ability to quickly and easily use it as an…

Black Diamond Nylon Sewn Runner


The Black Diamond Nylon Sewn Runner is far and away the most economical choice you can make when it comes to buying a sewn sling. It has virtually the exact same shape, feel, weight, and other characteristics as the Sterling Nylon Sewn Runner, except that…


climbing gear - the session ii gets the job done for low-medium falls.
The Session II gets the job done for low-medium falls.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Bouldering


Bouldering is one of the fastest growing segments of climbing. For good reason. It's social, fun, and easy to get into. Aside from needing the obvious (such as chalk and shoes) you're going to want a crash pad to keep you from smacking the ground from 10 feet and hurting those precious ankles. A bouldering pad is a must have, but, of course, this doesn't mean they are all the same. They aren't. Thankfully, our testers have put all the top pads from all the top brands to the test. Our top recommendations are as follows.

Bouldering Crash Pads

Mad Rock Duo


With thick foam and excellent functionality, the Mad Rock Duo became a surprise favorite among our testers. For climbers who want to carry multiple crash pads at once, it is a uniquely designed pad with a strap system to make this task relatively…

Mad Rock Mad Pad


The Mad Rock Mad Pad is one of the least expensive medium size bouldering pads we tested and has some of the thickest and stiffest foam out there. It was nearly impossible to "bottom out" on sharp rocks under the pad from any height. For its size, it is…


climbing gear - a selection of our test fleet. for our mountaineering boots' review...
A selection of our test fleet. For our mountaineering boots' review, we bought, tested and compared all the top models. We tested for weight, warmth, climbing ability, lacing, in addition to other metrics.
Credit: Ian McEleney

Mountaineering


The stuff you take into the high country best be deserving of the spot in your pack. We know from experience. The good news is that our testers are not only core climbers, but dedicated to providing the most useful, unbiased and informed reviews in the outdoor space. We have tested the top models from all the top brands in packs, boots, gaiters and ice axes.

Mountaineering Backpacks

Osprey Mutant 38


The Osprey Mutant 38 earns top marks again and retains our Editors' Choice Award. This pack defies limits, shifting with ease from a gear-hauling machine able to carry several days' worth of equipment into basecamp to a svelte summit pack nimble enough to…

Black Diamond Blitz 28L


The Black Diamond Blitz 28 is ready for your next fast-and-light charge to the summit of your dreams. This lightweight specialist is well suited to technical climbs where you're willing to sacrifice a little carrying comfort on the approach (and descent)…


Mountaineering Boots - Men's

Scarpa Phantom Tech


The Scarpa Phantom Tech is our Editors' Choice award-winning mountaineering boot. It's impressively light yet still protects climbers' feet from water in all of its forms. You'd have to step in a puddle deeper than 10 inches to get wet feet in this boot…

La Sportiva Trango Tower Extreme GTX


The La Sportiva Trango Tower Extreme GTX is our Best Buy Award winner. What makes this boot a good value isn't just its low price. Though it's the strongest at rock climbing, it also puts forth a satisfactory performance on steep ice or mixed ground. Low…


Gaiters

Rab Muztag GTX


The Rab Muztag GTX is one of our favorite gaiters for heavy-duty use. It is fully waterproof and easily adjustable. The instep strap is durable and replaceable. This model is as comfortable as full-length gaiters come, which is at least partly…


Ice Axes

Petzl Summit Evo


If we could only have one ice axe to use for everything from alpine rock climbing to complex glacier routes, the Petzl Summit Evo is the model we'd choose. Our top overall scoring model did have some tight competition, but in the end, the Summit Evo…

Black Diamond Raven


The Black Diamond Raven is one of the most popular models on the market today. It's a solid all-around mountaineering axe that functions well enough for most applications; while you can certainly buy a lighter model or one that performs better for steep…


climbing gear
Credit: Steven Tata

Big Wall


One of the founders of Outdoor GearLab, Chris McNamara, has climbed El Cap 80 times. So, yea, we know big wall gear. What you are going to find below is a hand-selected list of the best big-wall kit you will find on the internet. We've got the top two pics for big-wall harnesses, aiders, haul bags and ascenders. Stay safe out there!

Big Wall Harness

Metolius Safe Tech Waldo


The Metolius Safe Tech Waldo is our current favorite big wall climbing harness. It is the most comfy harnesses we tested and is also ideal for rigging, course setting or any application where you are going to hang around a lot. This is the most popular…


Aiders / Etriers

Yates Big Wall Ladder


The Yates Big Wall Ladder stands out for its ease of use and comfort when standing in it for hours at a time. This is our top choice for aid-intensive big walls. It is a beefy aider, which means you get durability and comfort at the expense of weight…

Metolius 5 Step Aider


The Metolius 5 Step Aider is the best etrier-style aider we have tested. Chris McNamara has used this aider on more walls than any other aider and says it is comfortable and easy to walk up in due to its reinforced Biothane step. It is also the best aider…


Haul Bags

Metolius Half Dome Haul Bag


This haul bag is our favorite. For starters, it's a great size — it's big enough but not so big that you have to go spelunking to find the Snickers bar that fell to the bottom. It is also among the most bomber bags, thanks to welded seams and thick…


Ascenders

Petzl Ascension


This excellent ascender has plenty of features and performs well in a variety of conditions

Kong Lift


These simple ascenders get the job done and offer good performance


to test our softshells we ran and biked and hiked and climbed - a...
To test our softshells we ran and biked and hiked and climbed - a lot. Our testers are dedicated to their craft, whether they are testing softshells or climbing gear...or both at the same time!
Credit: Mary Witlacil

Our Intention


We hope this list of the best climbing gear out there is helpful to you. Rest assured, each of our recommendations, from every category, is tested in full. We take the testing process very seriously and do not cut any corners. We bought every item at the store, just like you would. Unlike most review sites, we accept no manufacturer freebies. Our reviews are 100% unbiased and free of all influence.

If you like what you see here, or in our full comparison reviews, tell a friend and share online. Word of mouth has always been our bread and butter.

Want to get in touch? Give us a shout or a comment here. Thanks.

Chris McNamara


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